McCarthy won’t chase Bamford despite Ireland’s striking woes
Republic boss says ball is in Leeds striker’s court as his side struggle in front of goal
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has said he won’t chase Leeds striker Patrick Bamford as his side continue to struggle in front of goal. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Ireland’s laboured win over Gibraltar may have highlighted how much the team could do with an established international goalscorer, but Mick McCarthy is adamant that he will happily go into the autumn with the same selection to choose from before making another attempt to recruit Patrick Bamford.
The Leeds United striker, who played for Ireland at underage level before switching to England, has previously spoken to McCarthy, making himself available at senior level. But he opted to put any final decision on hold while, he said, he focused on helping his club win promotion to the Premier League.
That didn’t quite come off, and the 25-year-old attracted a huge amount of criticism after feigning injury in a highly charged game against Aston Villa at the end of the regular league season. But he did manage 10 goals in 25 appearances for the club over the course of the Championship campaign.
McCarthy, though, is clear that the ball is very much in the striker’s court at this stage.
“I’m not going chasing him anymore,” said the manager at the launch of the Euro 2020 National Football Exhibition at University of Limerick Sports Campus, where the Kennedy Cup is also being played this week. “It was left on the back-burner and I think that it’s up to Patrick.
“If he rings me up and he wants to play, then yes. But let me ask you a question. If you are an Irish player and you thought that you were good enough to play for Ireland, what would you do? Would you pick the phone up? That’s what I did. If he wants to play, he’s got to [pick up the phone].”
There is certainly very little sense that that is about to happen with the former Chelsea and Middlesbrough striker, while the prospect of Nathan Redmond declaring for Ireland would appear to be more or less dead at this point too.
The Southampton striker – who has been capped once by England at senior level in a friendly – remains eligible for Ireland, but an approach by McCarthy got no further, it seems, than the player’s agent.
The 25-year-old scored nine times at club level this season and Gareth Southgate caused some surprise in mid-May by including him in his preliminary squad for the Nations League finals in Portugal. The player was ultimately omitted from the travelling party, however.
McCarthy was also asked about Karlan Grant, the 21-year-old Huddersfield striker who moved to the Premier League side at the end of January after an impressive run of form with Charlton in League One, and managed four goals in 13 top flight appearances over the second half of the season. He is apparently eligible and has indicated he might be open to a switch after having represented England in his teens, but the Ireland manager said that the player is not currently on his radar.
Troy Parrott’s opportunities at senior level may still be some way off, with McCarthy suggesting that the Dubliner’s first priority must simply be to get himself full fit and playing again.
In the meantime, McCarthy rejected the notion that Ireland’s relative troubles in front of goal might ultimately prove fatal to their hopes of qualification as the campaign comes down to games between the group’s three main contenders.
“As long as we score enough to win a game, that’s all right by me,” he said. “We are not conceding many.
“I can’t produce some magic from somewhere that’s going to make us score but we keep practicing, keep doing it and keep coaching them about movement in the box.
“I’ve got pretty good coaches for that in TC [Terry Connor] and Robbie [Keane] without me getting involved. I could probably tell them how to keep it out of the net better than how to put it in the net.”
McCarthy had some sympathy for Matt Doherty after he was left to sit out both games in his international break, but said the Wolves defender will just have to wait for his chance given that it is Séamus Coleman keeping him out of the side.
“Séamus has been brilliant. And it’s interesting that we are talking about Gibraltar and how maybe I should have given Matt, who is a full-back, a game on the right-hand side when I’ve got Callum Robinson, who has been scoring goals all season and is a striker.”
Asked about extending his stay if Ireland do qualify for the European Championships, the former Sunderland boss insisted: “No, I’m not looking to do that. That’s completely unfair. Stephen [Kenny]’s been doing great with the under-21s; they are playing Brazil in the semi-final tomorrow, and to be asking me that question when there’s an agreement in place that it’s going to happen, that’s not really completely nice.”